Matthew1:1–17 as a Summary of Israel’s Story

: The Messiah, His Brothers, and the Nations

  • Jason Brian Hood

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by OU/Aberdeen)

    Abstract

    The opening episode of the twentieth season of The Simpsons features a recital of Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus by Bible-wielder Ned Flanders, as he and Homer Simpson stand stuck in dried concrete.1 The implication is clear. This genealogy seems to be boring stuff, depths of tedium only fit for recollection or contemplation if one is stuck in concrete. The average person can scarcely agree with Overstreet: ‘The NT opens with an arresting prefatory of names.’2 Yet scholars find the passage endlessly fascinating and have paid great attention to Matthew’s version of the genealogy of Jesus. But despite this attention, the interpretation of the genealogy in Matthew 1:1–17 is one of the most vexing areas of New Testament studies. The present thesis is an attempt to answer two questions. First, why does Matthew append ‘and his brothers’ to Judah and Jechoniah in 1:2 and 1:11? Secondly, why does Matthew include the following four annotations in 1:2–6: ‘and Zerah by Tamar’, ‘by Rahab’, ‘by Ruth’, and ‘by the [wife] of Uriah’? These two questions, especially the latter, continue to be the subject of debate, and must be regarded as open questions in Matthean scholarship. Dale Allison observes the opaque nature of Matthew’s allusive style, citing the women in the genealogy as an exemplary case of this mysterious facet of Matthean composition: ‘Matthew has this apparent defect, that its author did not trumpet all his intentions.
    Although he made much clear, he also left much, even much of importance, unsaid. The careful reader knows this after only the first few verses, for the striking insertion of four women into the genealogy must mean something (1:3, 5, 6). But what? We are, to our frustration, never told.’3 We are left with ‘the secret of the women in Matthew’s genealogy.’4 Despite manifold scholarly attempts to unlock this Matthean secret, a consensus is nowhere in sight.
    Date of Award5 May 2010
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Edinburgh
    SupervisorJamie Grant (Supervisor) & Howard Marshall (Supervisor)

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